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Security sold separately

Mass media corporation 21st Century Fox works with a large network of partners and employees to create its industry leading content. To protect that content, it took a close look at its IT infrastructure in order to strengthen authorization for its widespread workforce with a unified security platform.  

An inside job

For most organizations, it’s almost impossible to keep determined attackers from penetrating their perimeter-based security. 21st Century Fox realized that the key to preventing attackers from reaching sensitive data was to take a new zero trust approach to security. The Okta Identity Cloud fit the bill, with Okta Adaptive Multi-Factor Authentication playing a starring role.

Standardized protection, flexible options

Adaptive MFA allowed 21st Century Fox to standardize the authentication process for all employees and contractors—whether they’re working in the office, at home, or on the road. The company is also able to consider each user access request based on the context of the user, app, device, location, and network. Allowing people to choose from a wide range of authentication factors made it easy for everyone.

Learning to love it

Training videos, workshops, and other marketing tools eased the transition process for users. Now, employees and contractors are able to access the tools they need—in a way that works for them. The result? The perfect combination of convenience and security.

We're trying to migrate all the options we have in the Duo infrastructure over to Okta Verify. We've been using Okta MFA for almost a year now, and so far so good. It's been great for us.

Kevin DaCosta, Executive Director for Systems Integration at Fox Entertainment Group

Benefits

  • 50,000 users enrolled with Adaptive Multi-Factor Authentication
  • 40,000 people using MFA every month
  • Fast, secure, authenticated access to systems, data, and content
  • Works across all employees, third parties, integrations, and devices
  • A sensible, unified approach to systems security

A push to protect

One of the greatest challenges for modern media organizations is balancing vast global reach with technology that protects vital assets: information and content. 21st Century Fox is one of the biggest media companies in the world, with broadcast networks, web properties, production facilities, film studios, and offices around the globe. 

Every integration with producers, networks, and distributors needs rigorous controls with the same reliable—but light-touch—authentication methods. With data breaches and hacks making headlines, there’s no room for complacency. Kevin DaCosta, executive director for systems integration at Fox Entertainment Group explains, “One of the other [non-Fox] studios got hacked, and that was a wake-up call. It helped us drive more security awareness across the business at the highest level.” Of course, work still needs to get done, so keeping workflows fast, easy, and accessible was mandatory.  

Around the same time, 21st Century Fox hired a new chief information security officer, Melody Hildebrandt. After assessing the company’s perimeter-based security infrastructure, she directed DaCosta and his team to work on designing new zero trust infrastructure. To Hildebrandt, it seemed obvious that this was the best way to create a consistent, enjoyable user experience, and reduce the likelihood and impact of data breaches. “She came in with a core set of tools that she wanted to deploy across all of the businesses,” says DaCosta. “The best way to achieve that goal was for everybody to be in the same environment.”

Implementing zero-trust security

Like most technology experts, DaCosta understands that all organizations are vulnerable to data breaches. So it was natural to think seriously about how to eliminate or at least significantly reduce the damage of an attack if they successfully breached the system. 

21st Century Fox had all the traditional security measures in place, including antivirus software, firewalls, and Splunk. The IT team boosted system security by focusing on internal and external defense. It created layered systems and moats around critical data. It combined stronger security with new response approaches, rapid reaction models, and end-to-end monitoring. 

The organization was also using a full range of Okta identity solutions to make user provisioning simple and seamless across internal and external teams, and to simplify its complex security environment. 21st Century Fox was also using Duo Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), but when it realized it could simply expand Okta’s footprint, it started to phase out Duo. “We've expanded the Okta MFA offering so now it does some of the things that Duo used to do,” says DaCosta. “For example, it can instrument different servers for our RDP access and direct interactive login.”

Intelligent, seamless security

Okta’s Adaptive Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) goes a step further than standard MFA by considering context like location or app sensitivity, and responding accordingly. For example, if a contractor or employee logs in from an unusual location or an unrecognized device, Adaptive MFA may require the user to authenticate through a second factor before granting access.

With its broad and deep integrations with systems, apps, and third parties, Adaptive MFA is an ideal replacement for Duo. And Okta’s ease of use made it a powerful solution to 21st Century Fox’s need for a truly-unified identity and authentication platform. 

Okta MFA was the control plane where we could have the most consistency, and where we could also reduce the friction for our users,” says Melody Hildebrandt, Global CISO at 21st Century Fox. “So it actually accomplished a security goal, which was to make sure that the policy was enforced in the way that we had designed it, and it also accomplished an enterprise technology goal, which was to give our users technology that delights them and doesn't have excessive friction.” 

After the organization onboarded its users and apps, it enabled the solution. The rollout process was heavily informed by admin reporting and this same reporting was used to ensure that all users were given the right level of access, and that they were able to log into the right systems. The product also supports application-level authentication, giving 21st Century Fox a clear view into how its resources are being used, and by whom. Then, if IT notices any suspicious activity, it’s able to block access quickly and effectively.

A consistent approach

Whenever an organization introduces enterprise-wide changes like Adaptive MFA, consistency is vital. A clear, consistent approach to something as important as security needs to be simple and easy for employees to learn and use—wherever they are. Implementing several different security policies, practices, logins, accesses, or technologies at once creates confusion, increases support overheads, adds to staff frustration, and ultimately threatens IT security.

Christian Sosa, associate director of cloud and SaaS at 20th Century Fox, understands the benefits of consistency. “Collaboration across all business units is something that’s new for us,” he says. “We’re now deploying all these technologies throughout all the business units. Okta provides the authentication and identity for everyone. We are now managing a global infrastructure of services.”

We’re now deploying all these technologies throughout all the business units. Okta provides the authentication and identity for everyone. We are now managing a global infrastructure of services.

Sosa knew that a consistent experience across devices was equally important. Okta’s Adaptive MFA meant that everything looked the same no matter how an employee or third party accessed Fox systems. This created a consistent user experience, so employees never had to re-learn the security system.

MFA was a must for everyone who needed to access Fox systems—employees, vendors, contractors, and other third parties. Fox was able to customize security and MFA rules depending on who needed access and the systems they wanted to log into. If an associated company wanted to access non-confidential, public information, there's no need for MFA. 

For more secure environments, Adaptive MFA could understand user contexts and tailor authentication requirements accordingly. The change was supported by education, with videos, training sessions, support guides, and other documentation.

A flexible access experience

Many people see systems security as an inconvenience, and DaCosta wanted to change that. He and Sosa knew that if they wanted to get good buy-in across the organization, they had to be able to give employees options so they could authenticate themselves in a way that worked for them. Although many people were familiar with MFA, being able to customize how they accessed the system would make it faster and easier to use. 

Okta solves this challenge by providing multiple authentication options within a consistent Adaptive MFA framework. Fox got the robust, cost-effective, low-overhead authentication it needed and employees got MFA that could adapt to their needs. 

DaCosta explains, “We gave users the ability to choose their own benefits. We have Okta Verify, Okta Verify with Push, and we have SMS capability. We even added U2F USB tokens for people who didn’t have phones or didn’t want SMS charges. Ultimately, we tried to please everybody, depending on their own capabilities and wishes.”

As an added bonus, Okta’s Adaptive MFA and Single Sign-On (SSO) work hand in hand. An employee can enter their authentication credentials once at the beginning of the day, and SSO will seamlessly log them into any application they need to access. This type of unified, complete identity stack made things simpler and easier for both Fox employees and IT support.

Global access, happy users 

21st Century Fox put a lot of effort into beefing up its security, and all that work is paying off. With 50,000 users enrolled with Adaptive MFA and 40,000 people using it every month, the advantages are obvious:

  • Fast, secure, authenticated access to systems, data, and content
  • Works across all employees, third parties, integrations, and devices
  • A sensible, unified approach to systems security
  • Customization options to increase buy-in and help employees

Okta was able to give the organization everything it needed: a unified identity and authorization platform that balances stronger security, and enough customization to ensure employee buy-in and support. 

Now that’s something we can all appreciate.

About 21st Century Fox

21st Century Fox is the world's premier portfolio of cable, broadcast, film, pay TV, and satellite assets spanning six continents across the globe. Reaching more than 1.8 billion subscribers in approximately 50 local languages every day, 21st Century Fox is home to a global portfolio of cable and broadcasting networks and properties, including films and television production studios.